Thursday, October 24, 2013

Saudi Arabia Cuts Ties with the US over Syria-Iran

After the US government has been forced by the public, aided by Russian President Vladmir Putin’s appeal, to stand down against attacking Syria,  Saudi Arabia reportedly severed ties with the US.

Writes the Daily Mail, (hat tip Mises Blog)

Upset at President Barack Obama's policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia's ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.

Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a 'major shift' in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria's civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

'The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,' the source close to Saudi policy said. 'Saudi doesn't want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.'

It was not immediately clear whether the reported statements by Prince Bandar, who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years, had the full backing of King Abdullah.

The growing breach between the United States and Saudi Arabia was also on display in Washington, where another senior Saudi prince criticized Obama's Middle East policies, accusing him of 'dithering' on Syria and Israeli-Palestinian peace.
A US attack on Syria means a likely involvement of Iran which the Saudi leadership also desires the US to go to war with.

Syria and Iran signed a defense pact in 2006 “for military cooperation against what they called the "common threats" presented by Israel and the United States” (Wikipedia)

Aside from the Syrian stand down, Iran seem to be warming up to the US to improve diplomatic relations. Both parties including intermediaries have reportedly been conducting talks for the lifting of economic sanctions against Iran. This further got the goat of the Saudi leadership. 


The prospect of Mideast peace has influenced oil prices. WTIC oil has been on a downward trek.

Yet falling oil prices also imperils the welfare state of many Mideast political economies as previously discussed


And high oil prices to keep the welfare state afloat could also be one reason why Saudi’s leadership demands the US to take on Iran.

As a side note, Iran has higher oil price requirements for her welfare state, but obviously economic sanctions poses as a bigger danger or threat. For instance, Iran experienced an episode of hyperinflation in about a year ago


And since the Shale oil revolution, the US has been least dependent on oil imports. In fact, US oil production has surpassed Saudi last April, according to Professor Mark Perry.

This also means lesser influence by Saudi on American foreign policy, which may also have irked the Saudi political leadership

But aside from the geopolitics of oil, the other aspect of Saudi’s demand for the US to go to war with Syria-Iran may have been about regional power

As historian Eric Margolis explains:
But what will happen if punishing US-engineered sanctions against Iran are eased? Oil-rich Iran will rebuild its ravaged economy and infrastructure, and quietly enhance its military power. A key priority for Tehran will be modernizing its decrepit civilian air fleet that routinely crashes from mechanical problems or pilot error. Good news for Boeing and Airbus, as well as US energy companies.

If Iran regains its former role as a major Mideast power, this important development will run head-on into current US strategy to keep it weak and isolated until a pro-US government comes to power in Tehran. A strengthening Iran will generate fear and anxiety in Saudi Arabia and some of the less flexible Gulf states, and increase Tehran’s influence over Iraq.

An Iran with the capability of producing a few nuclear weapons within a year also deeply alarms Washington, its Arab allies, and Israel. An Iran with even a few nukes, like North Korea, would sharply limit US Mideast power and its ability to use military forces against Iran.

Israel knows that Iran has no intention of launching a nuclear attack on the Jewish state, which is a major world nuclear power with an invulnerable triad of land, sea and air-launched nuclear weapons.

But Israel’s constant alarms about Iran’s so far non-existent nuclear weapons serves to distract attention from its rapid absorption of the West Bank and Golan, and generate potent political and financial support from its North American partisans. Or maybe Israel’s leader, Benyamin Netanyahu has actually come to believe his own Jeremiads about Tehran’s supposed suicidal “mad mullahs.”

Today, Israel has no serious enemies in the Arab world: Egypt has been bought off; Iraq and Syria destroyed. Saudi Arabia is in secret alliance with Israel. The only nation that can hope to challenge Israel’s increasingly dominant role in the Mideast is Iran. That puts Israel, Iran and Saudi Arabia in a three-way competition for regional hegemony.
Mideast politics is surely a complicated one.

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